By Cody Soto
The No. 5 Baylor Bears faced No. 11 Virginia for the second time this season on Sunday afternoon, but the result ended the same way. The Bears took down the Cavaliers 5-2 at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center to improve to 9-2 on the season.
“I didn’t know who was going to win today. Virginia had someone in every spot who could win,” junior Julian Lenz said. “We are really good right now; at the beginning of the season we struggled against some easy opponents. Our focus has been better in practice, and everyone is fixing the little things. We know at every single spot that everyone competes really hard.”
The Bears got off to a fast start as junior Felipe Rios and sophomore Vince Schneider rolled over their opponents 6-1 on court three, but the No. 56 duo of seniors Tony Lupieri and Mate Zsiga fell 6-3 on court one to give Virginia the tie in doubles play.
Lenz and senior Diego Galeano had to fight off a late surge from Virginia’s Mitchell Frank and Collin Altamirano after leading 5-1, but the duo took the crucial 6-3 win on court two to give Baylor’s its 11th-straight doubles point. The Bears have yet to lose a doubles point this season.
“It’s funny because we don’t really practice doubles a lot,” Zsiga said. “We play a few games, but we feel confident with our partners. It’s worked out so far. We don’t do anything special, but we make good decisions and keep doing that over and over again.”
In singles play, Zsiga did not mess around on court five. The last time Baylor and Virginia met, Zsiga was the match clinching point. This time he was the first singles player to finish. The Szeged, Hungary senior rolled past Virginia’s J.C. Aragone to take a 6-0, 6-2 win for the 2-0 Baylor lead.
“As a body work, he’s listening better, and that’s made a huge difference,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “He’s starting to feel comfortable with what he can and can’t do. To [win] first is huge momentum for us.”
Virginia countered that singles point with one of their own as Altamirano blew past No. 40 sophomore Max Tchoutakian 6-2, 6-2 on court three to scratch the board. Rios fought off the possibility of a third set and took the 6-1, 6-4 win on court six to push Baylor closer to the victory.
After starting off the match strong, Lupieri let No. 59 Mitchell Frank fly past him in the final two sets. Frank outplayed Lupieri and took the 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win on court two. The match-clinching point came on court one as Lenz battled No. 2 Ryan Shane in a top 20 matchup.
Lenz’s serves forced a couple of errors by Shane, and in the end, Shane’s forehand into the net sealed the match as Lenz took a big 6-4, 7-5 win over his second straight No. 2 opponent.
“Every time Ryan Shane hits the ball, he knocks the cover off of it,” Knoll said. “Julian was ready to hold his own and hang in there. I’m proud of Julian for getting through it.”
Schneider was finished out his match after Baylor had already clinched the win, and the Mannheim, Germany native won 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 on court four to give the Bears a 5-2 win over the Cavaliers.
“We really focused all week; we knew they were going to be good,” Zsiga said. “It gives us a lot of confidence heading into Tuesday’s match.”
The Bears (9-2) open conference play against No. 15 TCU at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Hurd Tennis Center. The match could be moved indoors due to weather.